Field Trip to Temple Israel

Our visit to Temple Israel was very interesting and a great learning experience. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the beautiful architecture. The building was very beautiful and I really admired the modern look. There were also stones built into a wall shape outside the temple brought from Jerusalem, to symbolize the connection between Judaism and the holy land. The day we had our field trip was the day of Shabbat also known as the Sabbath. On this day Jews celebrate the six day work week and dedicate the seventh to worship and rest.

At the beginning, the rabbi began by reading from the Torah, where the rest of the people were reading with him. I thought it was really cool how all the people were joining in to read together as a community. There was also singing involved in the reading of the Torah. That was something that I thought was very cool because I have never seen prayer ceremonies done by singing.  I especially enjoyed listening to the women singing next to the rabbi. Her voice was very beautiful and really brought comfort to the atmosphere. I like how the kids are also encouraged to participate in the ceremony. After the kids were half way through their part of the ceremony, they drank grape juice to symbolize the completed and perfected human life.

After the kids’ part in the ceremony, there were a series times were we had to stand up and sit down along with reading and singing from the Torah. Towards the end of the ceremony, the rabbis brought out a scroll of the Torah to show to us and also to read from for all of the people. The scroll looked like ancient writings. The scroll includes the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This is also what Christians call the Old Testament. Jews do not call it the Old Testament, because to them it is not old and has been practiced for centuries. There was also an area in the wall across the seating area, where the Torah books were placed. There was a covering on every book to keep the books neat. And another drape like covering to keep the shelves covered where the sacred books were kept. The rabbis were also wearing prayer shawls containing 613 knots to remind them of the 613 commandments that they have to follow in Judaism. There were also times throughout the ceremony, where people took time to say their own prayers and also a time where the rabbi called out names of people who were sick and needed prayers and those who have passed. After the ceremony was concluded there was food and drink offered outside the prayer area.

All of the people at the Temple were very kind and welcoming. Being from a different religion, I was worried that I would feel out of place, but it appears that Jewish people have great hospitality in their culture and religion. Reading only the chapter in the book is not enough to understand the religion and its people. Visiting the Temple taught me a lot more about the religion of Judaism.  

– Yara Abdel Jabbar, UNO Student